Homebuilders! WAKE UP! Baby Boomers need you!

Can you hear that?  If you can’t, you will soon.  The thunder as baby-boomers who soon begin their mass exodus out of the single family real estate market & into, for most, a condo, before the move to something more assisted.  But if a condo is not your gig, then you, like I, know some things in local building trends need to change.  Builders need to stop building according to market whims & think market needs.  10 million Canadian baby-boomers, all wanting to take out their pensions & sell of their homes in the course of the same 15 year span will do more than slightly dent the Canadian economy. What economists are noticing however, is that many don’t WANT to sell their homes now…boomers are just not ready emotionally. However when there is this many in one age bracket, there are not enough of their offspring to BUY their homes from them.  Net worth has no where to go but south, and that is just the laws of supply & demand whispering this warning.  Such a strain on the economy is going to have a massive impact on the housing market.    Waiting a decade until their situations become desperate & they CAN’T go down the stairs or shovel the walks because the osteoporosis or arthritis kicks in full tilt, may not just be a bad judgement call, but crippling to a culture so used to a high standard of living.  With nursing homes in short supply & already long wait lists for the best retirement communities, local homebuilders have a very lucrative opportunity if they begin to shift business plans to house this generation.   This shift in building design will (help) alleviate the housing crisis ahead, and is called UNIVERSAL DESIGN (UD).  Life happens, and all it takes is one little-bitty rear-ender to make that decision for you.  The smart one’s will sell now, even in a recession, knowing their net worth is higher now, and not in 10 years when the boomers try and sell off their biggest investments…all at once. There are tons of+50 condo’s, however, not all people are suited for condo living, and certainly not enough to house everyone.  There needs to be more choice to be able to build a house that can see the boomers through right up until their last years, if not last breath.   My father was diagnosed at the age of 30 with MS, so I have not known any different than this & it is the envy of many of their friends now, who are being forced to move lickety-split due to their (ahem) aging bodies.  New Era Homes (bankrupt now) was the only builder in 1987 that accommodated a wheelchair, however, it implemented for that day & age, cutting edge design that is going to prove my parents’ saving grace.  What builders need to forecast, is the housing crisis that looms.  YESTERDAY, was the time we needed to implement large scale building of Universal Design Homes, if not communities.  Homes built around Universal Design architecture & products are homes that can transcend through the stages of life…and not just an able-bodied life.

UNIVERSAL DESIGN (new construction)



-POURED SIDEWALK FROM STREET – DOOR (and no door step or lip)

-WIDER DOORS (34-36”) & WIDER HALLWAYS (for wheelchair to
be able to turn without hitting walls)

-TALL BASEBOARDS (wheelchairs are notorious for drywall

-SWITCH PLATES: Lights, thermostats, electrical panel (main
floor) Lower & Wider

-BATHROOMS:  Spacious enough for wheelchair to go in & comfortably shut the door behind, turn

-DRIVE IN-SHOWER: and can allow wheelchair to go into &
out of with no floor lips.


-RAISED TOILET (for easy transfer from wheelchair)

-“SUPERPOLE”  bar at toilet area (SuperPole System is one I am familiar with)

-SINGLE (Vertical)  KNOB FAUCET (hand impairment/arthritis)


-KEYLESS ENTRY: “Open Sesame Door Systems” (however there lots of great brands)

-REINFORCED ROOF: to accommodate hoist (if needed)

-KITCHEN: Stoves with side or front mounted controls

-LOWER COUNTERS in kitchen & bathroom.

-LAUNDRY: front load washer & dryer with front controls.


-HARDWOOD THROUGHOUT: no carpets, or avoid plush carpet.  Also hard on wheelchair battery life ! If
using rugs, use berber or low pile.

LOWER WINDOWS: to an able bodied person this may mean
nothing, but to someone else it could mean the world.  For further discussion on Universal Design in
new home construction, or accommodating existing homes to implement UD, feel
free to contact me at ronaele@fancyshacks.ca